Report: AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea
- Andre Marriner
Top of the table Chelsea were too strong for AFC Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium as they won 3-1 in Dorset on Saturday evening.
Two goals in three first-half minutes gave Chelsea a commanding start, Adam Smith unluckily deflecting home Diego Costa's mis-hit before Eden Hazard showed his class to score the second.
Joshua King kept up his excellent recent scoring run pulling one back before the interval, though Marcos Alonso's pinpoint free kick after the break gave Chelsea breathing space again.
Bournemouth pushed for a way back into the game late on but were always unlikely to wrestle the result back against the Premier League champions-elect.
Ryan Fraser replaced Jordon Ibe in the Cherries only change from the game at Liverpool as the game kicked off amidst the glorious Dorset evening sunshine.
In the first 60 seconds the home side were nearly given a huge helping hand in their search for an opener, Fraser's cross was sliced by David Luiz and flying in before an acrobatic, and crucial Thibaut Courtois intervention.
A needless handball saw Victor Moses pick up the game's first caution, while on the attack Adam Smith's flying block stopped the path of Alonso's stinging shot.
Shotly after, an incisive Jack Wilshere ball set Ryan Fraser free with just Luiz ahead of him. Stood up by the Brazilian, Fraser sliced his shot and it flew wide.
After 17 minutes Chelsea took the lead, with a heavy slice of luck playing a sizeable part in the game's first goal.
A ball into the Cherries box fell to Costa, his hacked-at shot was skewing wide before an untimely glance off Adam Smith's head diverted the ball in off the post.
Within three minutes the lead was two, Hazard doubling the away side's advantage - with no luck involved from a well taken effort.
N'Golo Kante spotted the Belgian's run and just onside Hazard skipped forwards, rounded Artur Boruc and slid his shot into the empty net.
Just before the half hour mark, the Cherries went extremely close to finding a way back into the game. A crisp cross was met full on the volley by Benik Afobe, but the ball crashed off the inside of the post, rolling across the face of the goal and going behind.
The Blues upped their attempts for a third with Costa firing wide and Victor Moses planting his header off target when in a good position in the area.
Closing in on half time and fortune did swing in the home side's favour as they scored to halve the deficit.
Afobe sent his strike partner into space and as he approached the 18-yard box King let fly, the ball taking a deflection off Luiz and arrowing into the top corner at the near post.
The second half began without changes for either side and though the hosts began on the attack Boruc had to be on his toes to anticipate Alonso's threatening centre.
A fine Cherries attack saw Marc Pugh interchange with King before setting up Fraser for a strike - the winger's effort flashing narrowly wide.
Hazard put a ball into the corridor of uncertainty that neither defenders nor attackers could get to before Costa was unable to turn home with an opportunity at the near post.
Both teams were creating chances and Arter soon teed up Simon Francis from a free kick, the ball deflected en route to goal and fell to King, though the Norwegian was flagged offside.
The fourth goal came Chelsea's way as the game entered the final quarter, a sublime 25-yard Alonso free kick curving over the wall and in to restore the visitor's two-goal advantage.
Following their third the league leaders looked to take the sting out of the game, giving Bournemouth little invitation to break forwards.
The hosts began to up the attacking intensity but had Boruc to thank as he stood up to make a tremendous blocking save from Moses who had wriggled free in the box.
Substitutes Lys Mousset and Ibe made an impact from the bench in the closing stages but the Cherries fell to their first defeat in six Premier League games.